Policy work

This section provides an overview of my recent policy projects. My main area of expertise is human capital: labour market policies, skills mismatch & education, and gender issues. I extensively employ alternative high-frequency data to gain insights about economic activity. 

High frequency alternative economic data 

Tracker of Russian domestic activity under sanctions (2023)

My role: co-author

In light of Russia’s war against Ukraine and the unprecedented sanctions imposed by Western countries, the importance of tracking economic activity in Russia has gained significantly in relevance. This column presents a selection of alternative indicators that are linked to domestic economic activity but are independent of the official Russian statistical service. The indicators are combined to construct a monthly tracker of domestic activity, serving as a leading indicator and as a robustness check of official data releases. The novel tracker suggests that domestic activity in Russia experienced a further setback at the end of 2022, which is not fully reflected in official statistics. 

The tracker has been published on VoxEU/CEPR and received media coverage (The Guardian, The Telegraph, Yahoo Finance, Business Insider, Business Insider Markets, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Handelsblatt, Lavoce, Focus.de)

Big data and labour market in Ukraine: Evidence from 2.1 million vacancies (2022)

My role: project lead and co-author

The dashboard tracks the developments of the Ukrainian labour market between January 2021 and November 2022 using commercial data from a large international jobs marketplace. We capture the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions throughout 2021 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

It is a not-for-profit pet project developed by me and my friend and former colleague, Viktoriia Yuzkiv. 

The dashboard is hosted on Tableau.

See my LinkedIn post with recent updates.

Post-COVID Ukrainian economy recovery tracker (2021)

My role: contributor

A monthly tracker of economic activity in Ukraine since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic based on alternative high-frequency indicators. We track changes in people's mobility, labour market, HoReCa & tourism, property market, and electricity consumption. 

Recent tracker update is available on the CES website.

Ukraine & war-time economy 

Banking sector minotor Ukraine (2023)

Role: contributor (Digital transformation section)

 Review of the Ukrainian banking sector during Russia's full-scale invasion. 

Policy brief is available on the GET website.

Ukrainian economy in war times: 2022 review (2022)

Role: contributor (Human capital section)

The 2022 overview of the Ukrainian economy during Russia's full-scale invasion. 

Policy paper is available on the CES website.

Ukrainian economy in war times: Warm enough for the cold season? August 2022 (2022)

Role: contributor (Labour market section)

A monthly overview of the Ukrainian economy during Russia's full-scale invasion. 

Policy paper is available on the CES website.

Labour market policies 

Adaptivity of the labour market in Ukraine during the COVID-19 pandemic: Analysis and policy recommendations (2021)

Role: project lead and co-author.

In this policy study, produced jointly with the German Economic Team (Berlin Economics) and the Centre for Economic Strategy, we analysed adaption mechanisms available to companies to make necessary changes to their workforce and reduce labour costs during the Corona crisis. 

We identified at least four such mechanisms: to ask an employee to take temporary leave (paid or unpaid), to cut working hours, to put staff on the state 'partial unemployment' (furlough) scheme, or, eventually, to lay off part of the team. 

Three out of four options remained heavily constrained by formal and rigid labour legislation, yet companies found their way around it. The furlough scheme did not help to protect jobs either -- only a handful of SMEs qualified for it. In consequence, firing employees remained the most widely used mechanism of adaption. 

Ukraine can improve its labour market adaptivity both through making labour market regulation more flexible and by extending the coverage and generosity of the state furlough scheme. 

Policy paper is available on the CES website.

Design of short-time work schemes: International experience and recommendations for Ukraine (2021)

Role: project co-lead and co-author.

In this study, carried out jointly with the German Economic Team (Berlin Economics) and the Centre for Economic Strategy, we reviewed short-term work scheme designs in four countries (Germany, UK, Romania, Japan). Based on international experience, we developed recommendations on how to improve the current 'partial unemployment' scheme in Ukraine to better prepare for new economic shocks.

Policy briefing is available on the GET website.

How does better access to kindergartens help mothers in the labour market? (2020)

Role: project co-lead and co-author.

Female labour force participation is much lower than that of males in Ukraine. This is due to many factors, including the unwillingness or reluctance of a woman to work as well as many other factors that arise against her own will. One of such factors is limited access to pre-school education. Lack of access means both the lack of places at kindergartens and low quality of services. Our calculations and experience of other countries indicate that pre-school enrolment rates is positively correlated with female labour force participation. 

In this study, we estimate that a ten percentage point increase in preschool enrolment in the region is associated with an increase in female labour force participation from 57.5% to 58.9-59.3%, or by 209.5-269.3 thousand women. Although we assessed the level of labour force participation of women aged 15 to 70 (i.e., not only young mothers), the size of the effect is still significant. Additional employment may potentially bring from 46.2 to 59.4 billion UAH of extra GDP per year. 

Based on our study, we developed public policy recommendations for The Ministry of Education and regional authorities. 

Policy paper is available on the CES website.

Education & skills

Labour market after the COVID-19 crisis: What professional skills will women need? (2021)

My role: project owner and main author

During the COVID-crisis, more women lost jobs than men, in relative terms (global trend) — that's why this crisis is also called 'she-cession'.  This was due to the following trends:

(1) women’s employment is concentrated in sectors that are relatively stable in typical business cycles but were strongly affected by lockdowns (e.g., 70% of HoReCa and trade workers in Ukraine are females),

(2) as schools and daycare centres were shut down, parents’ childcare needs multiplied, with women providing the majority of additional childcare, which left many of them unable to work,

(3) COVID-crisis has accelerated automation and transformation of business models — some professions transformed while some employees simply became redundant (e.g., closure of bank branches and mass banking digitalization have reduced the need for cashiers, credit agents, but increased the demand for software engineers and data scientists).

Hence, the need for a mass professional re-skill/up-skill, especially for females, has arisen. In this study, we analyzed which professional clusters of women have become more vulnerable to two types of risks: the risk to lose a job due to new lockdowns and the risk to become redundant due to accelerated automation. According to our estimates, 58% of all employed women in Ukraine, or 4.4 million, have become more vulnerable to the consequences of the COVID-crisis. These include certain categories of office workers, technicians, laboratory and research staff, service and trade workers, and women in elementary occupations. 

We analyzed 1M+ vacancies from job search engines in Ukraine -- Jooble, LinkedIn and OLX Робота and spoke to top HRs to suggest re-skill options for women who have lost a job or are at risk of losing it due to automation in the nearest future. We also developed public policy recommendations on adult retraining.

Policy paper is available on the CES website.

How much the Ukrainian economy will benefit from more women in IT? (2021)

Role: project owner and main author.

IT is one of the major drivers of the Ukrainian economy. The latest data suggest that its share in Ukraine’s GDP has reached 5%, and its increase to 10% is one of the key goals of the Ministry of Digital Transformation. 

The rapid development of the industry demands more talent, which is currently scarce. Although the number of students majoring in Computer Sciences is growing by 11% annually, only 20% of them are females. As a result, the Ukrainian IT industry, like the global one, is gender unbalanced: 25% of IT employees in Ukraine are women, yet most of them work in non-technical jobs, such as project managers, HR, and marketing specialists. 

Studying Computer Sciences is often associated with math. However, the data show that there is no statistically significant difference in the average scores of ZNO, a nationwide examination to enter higher education, in Mathematics between girls and boys. Therefore, the difference in mathematical abilities cannot explain the low share of girls in CS programs. The choice of girls is often influenced by gender stereotypes about STEM jobs, opinion of parents, relatives, peers, and teachers, as well as lack of self-confidence.  

The peculiarity of the Ukrainian IT sector is that it offers much higher salaries than other industries. For women who are interested in innovation, ready to constantly learn and integrate into the global community, employment in IT can become a decent option for greater financial independence. We calculated that even in junior roles in IT remuneration is three times higher (+15.3 thousand UAH per month). 

In addition, the gender pay gap in IT is 11 percentage points less than the national average. In other words, a small positive impact on the economy from attracting more women into IT could be achieved through a smaller pay gap in an industry where compensations are already much higher than the national average. We estimate that the Ukrainian economy would gain up to 32.7 million USD from this.

Policy paper is available on the CES website.

State budget program in the field of education (2020): Review and policy recommendations 

Role: co-author.

In this note, we analyze the structure of spending under the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine's program, "Nationwide Measures in the field of Education," which totals UAH 725 billion for the 2020 plan, representing 1.5% of the expenditures within the apparatus of the Ministry. This program primarily finances the printing of school textbooks but also addresses other tasks related to various ministry spheres. We propose streamlining the program by reorganizing it into more relevant functional areas, revising its objectives, and updating the performance indicators accordingly. Our recommendations include:

1. Enhance the quality of program documents by presenting them in machine-readable formats, detailing the essence and dynamics of changes in the analytical sections of budget requests, and focusing on meaningful, socially significant indicators rather than a purely formal approach.

2. Reallocate some budget program funds from the Ministry of Education and Culture to more suitable programs.

3. Establish a new budget program for inclusive education with appropriate performance indicators.

4. Address issues in the preparation and publication of textbooks, including the lack of competition in the selection and publication stages, poor content quality, and examination procedure flaws.

Policy paper in Ukrainian is available on the CES website.

National strategy & development 

Strategy of economic development of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts (2021)

Role: contributor (Human capital policies section).

The Project UA2002 “Donbas Economic Transformation Strategy Support” aims to address the absence of a clear, complex, and result-oriented strategy and respective roadmap for the Donbas region’s economic recovery.  Without such a strategy, the Government of Ukraine has been unable to make progress on the country’s sustainable economic development and effective reintegration of the temporarily occupied territories. Years of persistent economic and social deterioration in the Donbas region (Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts) has been a significant drain on national resources and created significant risks for the region’s residents, especially vulnerable populations such as IDPs, women, elderly, etc. These challenges cannot be resolved with ad-hoc measures. They require a comprehensive strategic approach.

Since the beginning of the military conflict in Eastern Ukraine, the Donbas has lost most of its economy (businesses and jobs) and created a serious challenge for the whole country in dealing with the restoration of key industrial and other value chains, addressing IDPs and creating a more attractive image for foreign investors.

Therefore, this TA responds to a Ministry for Reintegration of the Temporary Occupied Territories of Ukraine's (MTOT) request for support in drafting a Donbas Economic Transformation Strategy. It will include diagnostics of the current state of Donbas, defining gaps and challenges that the strategy should address, assessing various policy options, modelling results of policy implementation, defining required legislative and regulatory changes for implementation and preparing a draft strategy document.

The immediate outcome of the project is providing required support to the MTOT in developing the Donbas Economic Transformation Strategy, consisting of relevant, realistic, evidence-based and inclusive policies, as well as a detailed roadmap for the strategy implementation and outline of necessary legislative and regulatory changes.

Based on our policy reports, the 'Strategy for the economic development of Donetsk and Luhansk regions until 2030' was drafted. It was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in August 2021. 

Strategy summary is available on the Ministry of Reintegration website. 

Full reports are available on the CES website.

National strategy to increase foreign direct investment in Ukraine (2021)

Role: co-author. 

National Strategy to Increase Foreign Direct Investment in Ukraine was developed per request of the Government of Ukraine, with support from the USAID Competitive Economy Program (CEP) by EY in Ukraine, in consultations with the Office of the National Investment Council, Ministry of Economy of Ukraine, and UkraineInvest. 

The Strategy provides recommendations for the development of promising industries to attract investments and ways to increase the foreign direct investment inflows into Ukraine. The document was primarily created for the international investment community and Ukrainian institutions directly engaged in investment attraction and promotion.

The Strategy is built around cross-sectoral (privatization, export promotion, education, digital transformation, and others) and sectoral incentives to increase foreign direct investments. The document contains specific recommendations on increasing the country’s attractiveness to potential foreign investors, both for relocating production facilities and starting new activities in Ukraine.

 The strategy is divided into 3 sections: a macro view of the state of affairs regarding FDI, sectoral analytical documents and the proposed Action Plan and Vision until 2030.

Strategy is available on the UkraineInvest website.

Assessment of Ukraine's economic losses from the temporary occupation of Crimea (2021)

Role: co-author (Banking sector section).

Economic losses from the Russian Federation's temporary occupation of the Crimean peninsula amounted to $135 billion, or about 75% of Ukraine's GDP in 2013. The study of the Center for Economic Strategy, commissioned by the Representation of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, reached such conclusions.

The assessment of losses is necessary to compensate these losses through international courts, by obliging the Russian Federation to pay the corresponding amounts or by seizing the assets of the subjects involved in the occupation, in Ukraine or even abroad. Lawsuits from Ukraine as a state, state and private companies and individual citizens have been submitted to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR, Strasbourg), the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Arbitration (both in The Hague), the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (Hamburg), as well as in the courts of the Netherlands, France and Switzerland.

Policy paper is available on the CES website.

Chinese economic footprint in Ukraine (2021)

Role: co-author (Agriculture and food, Culture & education section).

China is a growing superpower with a substantial impact on every economy in the world. With its shifting political landscape, Ukraine has not fallen into the Chinese orbit as some other Eastern European countries did. Still, over the past seven years, China has substantially expanded trade with Ukraine, acquired significant assets in the energy and agriculture sectors, and attempted to get stakes in aircraft engine construction. This report investigates significant developments of the Ukrainian-Chinese bilateral economic relations and summarizes Chinese business practices in Ukraine. 

Policy paper is available on the CES website.